Analysis Breaking comment

Tories think it’s ‘absolutely extraordinary’ that union leader listens to members over pay

RCN leader should never have recommended nurses accept 5% offer, but she’s right to listen after they rejected it

RCN general secretary Pat Cullen has told the government and media that nurses demand a double-figure pay-rise, after nurses voted to reject the government’s derisory 5% offer.

Tory mouthpiece Grant Shapps has described the supposed ‘u-turn’ as ‘absolutely extraordinary’ – Cullen had originally recommended to RCN members to accept the offer, but they rightly rejected it overwhelmingly. Apparently, in the Tory worldview, respecting democracy and listening to the views of hard-working nurses is ‘extraordinary’.

Shapps’s lack of respect for democracy is unsurprising – given Keir Starmer’s complete refusal to display any as supposed ‘opposition’ ‘leader’. Starmer and the TUC have reportedly leaned on unions to recommend offers to their members that were little or no better than the insulting pittances offered by the government that triggered their strikes – and Unison members working in the NHS were conned into accepting it by a narrow margin.

Cullen made the same mistake, but at least has listened to the loud voices of RCN members.

Shapps is a scandal, along with his Tory colleagues – but they are allowed to be and to get away with it by Keir Starmer’s non-opposition and shameful collusion with the Establishment and the billionaires who fund it.

SKWAWKBOX needs your help. The site is provided free of charge but depends on the support of its readers to be viable. If you’d like to help it keep revealing the news as it is and not what the Establishment wants you to hear – and can afford to without hardship – please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal or here to set up a monthly donation via GoCardless (SKWAWKBOX will contact you to confirm the GoCardless amount). Thanks for your solidarity so SKWAWKBOX can keep doing its job.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.


  1. Tories think it’s ‘absolutely extraordinary’ that union leader listens to members over pay

    Now, when you say tories….?

    1. Oh, of course… Its grant shafts… Who could’ve gone to jail had KEEF decided to prosecute.😙🎵

      1. Toffee – You’re being silly again, but you already knew that.

  2. It’s not just that Starmer is a tory. It’s something much worse: Starmer is necessarily a top-down manager – which is hardly surprising from a pro-Establishment globalist neoliberal.

    The Labour right necessarily opposes the bottom-up model that is core to Labour as a democratic socialist community- and people-centred political power-house.

    Corbyn’s member-lead/movement model for Labour is the alternative approach. It delivers
    i) a stronger party which is better connected to its members and (their) communities;
    ii) better-informed decisions and leadership;
    iii) a stronger , more democratic party in which members are in-charge;
    iV) more room for political creativity and participative democracy.

    Skwawkbox’s incisive story proves one thing about Keir Starmer (and the right wing in Labour): They’re not oriented to democracy or socialism, ie it is not capable of shaping and developing Labour as a community and people-centred political power-house.

  3. I can see a problem: Unison members accepting the deal would inevitably lead to the government refusing to increase pay, any improvement in pay would have to apply to members of Unison too retrospectively.
    I would urge Unison members to abandon Unison and join Unite that still supporting the strike. Under the circumstances, Unite needs to re-assure members jumping ship from Unison to Unite, that former Unison’s members will have access to strike funds and representation for day one.
    Unless, Unison’s position is undermined and quickly, I cannot see the RCN and Unite winning the strike and sooner or later they will have to fold.
    In the meantime, nurses that aren’t striking should refuse to do extra hours to cover for striking colleagues.

    1. Reply to Maria V
      Unison is and always was an excuse for a union and while I would urge their members to look elsewhere doing so now won’t change the outcome of this vote. The members voted to accept the pay deal for whatever reason and like it or not that vote stands. It has to- its democracy.

      1. Smartboy, would members of Unison leave in mass and join Unite, the agreement with Unison will stand of course but, it would be wet paper.
        I hope that Unison members have the brain not to work extra hours to cover for striking colleagues. Were Unite and the RCN managed to get a better deal (doubtful) the better deal will apply to them too. If shifts are being covered the strike doesn’t have a chance of winning.
        It is also an issue of patients’ safety a nurse working 60 hours per week cannot possibly maintain safe conditions for patients. RCN and Unite need to monitor how many hours nurses that aren’t striking are working.

      2. Reply to Maria V
        As I said Unison is an excuse for a union- they should be called a staff association or something like that for they lack the essential values of fraternity and solidarity which make a Trade Union. Nothing they could do would surprise me including undermining Unite and the RCN in this dispute. It wouldn’t be the first time they have judased their comrades.

      1. Indeed, divide and rule is what the establishment does best.
        Let’s us hope than in 2025 a single left candidate challenges McAnea and wins the position of Unison’s General Secretary.

    2. Excellent points which Unite should immediately act on. But it is the RCN which is the key. Pat Cullen either made a mistake in accepting the deal or thought she could sell it.. She should admit her errors and stand down. She has made the RCN a laughing stock. The members deserve so much better.

      1. Her latest MILITANT pose is sheer humbug, a smokescreen to hide her earlier right-wing surrender. She cannot be believed or trusted.

    3. All the unions, Unison most of all, simply had know from the get go that if any one union broke the united front by accepting a deal. How was it allowed to happen? Was there no prior agreement?

      1. Rita, v good questions. I Don’t expect any answers though do you?

  4. Shapps made his comments in order to perpetuate Thatcher’s myth that hard nosed “union barons” sit in smoke filled rooms dictating to workers and threatening hardworking bosses with financial ruin if they don’t give in to the their totally unreasonable demands.
    Thatcher set out to destroy and demonise the Unions aided and abetted by the right wing MSM. She used the same smear tactics against Arthur Scargill during the miners strike that were used against Jeremy Corbyn and then as now many people fell for it.
    These comments by Shapps are just more of the same. They are malicious and clearly designed to undermine the nurses case. After applauding the nurses during Covid they can’t very well vilify them in the same way they vilify other workers so they use this tactic against the RCN instead.
    In relation to the Gen Sec,while she can recommend that a pay offer is accepted it is up to the nurses to decide whether or not it should be. They have voted to reject the offer. Pat Cullen has not “listened” to them . She had no choice. She had to abide by the democratic decision of the RCN members if she wanted to retain their confidence and her job.

  5. ‘Tories think it’s ‘absolutely extraordinary’ that union leader listens to members over pay’

    and Keir Starmer thinks it ‘absolutely extraordinary’ that party leaders listen to party members on anything.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: